Beware the player
"I can't bweev under water," he protested. Our assurances that no one else can either didn't reassure him. "I need one of those tube thingies, with the glasses. Then I'll be able to bweev."
No dice, I said. Learn how to swim before you tackle the snorkel. I did relent on swim goggles - I hate water in my eyes, too - but I told him he could have them only if he put his head under water the next day.
He pouted, but he did at least agree to dunk himself. He blew bubbles, too. When he, Big Guy and I went to the pool later that afternoon, though, he refused to budge. "I can't bweev under water. I need a snuckle."
And so it went for a week. He'd do most of what the teacher asked, but he always reached a freak-out point during class. He'd find something he just didn't want to do, so he'd hang onto the side and caterwaul. Or he'd cry piteously when the teacher tried to tow him out.
"I can't do it! I'll dwon!"
"There is no 'I can't'," she'd respond. "Say, 'I'll try.' You can do it. You're a swimmer!"
"Yeah! We're swimmers!" Best Friend would add.
He'd do it then, though with a bit of lingering dramatic sniffing.
Then one day, toward the end of the class, he woke up in the middle of the night. "I had a bad dream, Mommy. There was a lot of water in it. Can I have a hug?"
I hugged my poor, frightened baby with all my heart. Maybe he shouldn't finish the class if he's that scared, I thought.
Unable to get back to sleep, I went downstairs to edit some video I'd shot during class that day. I'd positioned myself midway between Boots' and Big Guy's groups and took turns filming each. I was zoomed out, which meant Boots didn't know where I was looking.
And while he thought I wasn't looking ... he swam. He made it only a couple of yards under his own steam, but he definitely was bweeving. And he didn't dwon.
I showed him the video the next morning. His eyes got big.
"Wow. I can swim! I can swim!"
I don't rule out the possibility that this was news to him. There's every chance that he felt so awkward in the water that he really didn't know that he was indeed swimming.
I also don't rule out the possibility that the little rat fink was playing me.
"Can I have my snuckle now?"
"If you go to the big pool and swim without your life jacket," I replied. I'm not about to give it away after the performance I'd just witnessed on tape.
Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.